Not the Sequel we Deserve, but the one we Needed…or is it the Other Way Round?

Well it wasn’t the Second Coming of Christ, and as a result there has been a tirade of slander against the final arc in the Nolan Batverse Trilogy – nicely countering the influx of fanatics who sent death threats to less-than glowing reviewers. Personally I liked it, although I’m fully aware of its’ numerous story, pacing, characterisation and design flaws, but c’mon this is a Batman film – remember how bad they used to be? Surely a disappointing yet not unwatchable instalment is leagues more acceptable than Forever and & Robin. This review isn’t me hating on a bad film as done for the previous Batman reviews here; it’s a chance to air out the complex stupidity of the story and maybe help us to better understand why Batman has such trouble getting rid of bombs. Plus with the Nostalgia Critic covering most of my back catalogue to-do list I figured I’d best cover something made after 1997 for a change. Strap on your detective hats, because this is going to take some sussing out…

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‘Piranha 3DD’ (if ‘DD’ stands for Depraved and Downright Misogynistic)

Up to this point, Ticket Stub Refund has been about fun (okay, vicious bitching) and the mocking of films generally of low quality but redeeming comedic value. In fact I’d suggest having watched the films under scrutiny at some point before, even watching them again before or after to re-familiarise yourself with the details. HOWEVER, today I offer a proviso that by providing you with this run through you DO NOT SEE PIRANHA 3DD!!! By God this film is a travesty, and not just for its dire script (desperately in need of an editor during writing), atrocious editing (same goes), bad direction (not helped by the script or editing), lack-lusted use of 3D[D], limp CG, and piss-poor excuse for characters, picked straight from the rosta of Eight Legged Freaks, only without the charm or self-referential 1950s B-movie admiration evident from the production crew. No, these things do not make a cinematic abomination – a bad film certainly (just look at anything Michael Bay has developed this decade), but not so bad that I’d advise avoiding it – ever for laughs. “Why?” you ask?, because it’s the most misogynistic, woman objectifying, sleaze piece of trash ever to be given a budget, and before you say “But what about the porno parody films that release alongside Blockbusters like Pirates of the Caribbean XXX, and This Ain’t the Smurfs XXX?”, it’s because at no point during those films did I feel uncomfortably like those involved hated women.

Piranha 3DD is utterly, abhorrently shameless about its treatment of female characters, reduced to faceless torsos and legs thanks to cropping shots that de-personify them into walking breasts and asses, whored out, talked down to by the male cast yet never rising up against or proving them wrong, showing them as ditzy morons, and for one particular character cruelly mocked for being physically sick and in pain, willingly debasing herself for a man she knows only wants her for her body, and made to endure painful humiliations (one with rape overtones played for laughs AGAINST HER and with the male being the figure of sympathy). I’m no raging feminist, but this film is such a step in the wrong direction towards entrenched equality of the sexes, in addition to being a poorly produced dreg unfit to use as fish bait.

You know why I think 2010’s Piranha 3D worked, it had a tongue-in-cheek understanding of what it was; goofy monster movie premise fun, with enough blood to drown a herd of elephants and some inventive gore effects that made the Feast Trilogy look reservedly tame, that happened to work wet tee-shirts and nudity INTO the plot BECAUSE it was a parody/tribute of what these genre films are renown for: inventively gory deaths, killer creatures, a plot devoid of any reality, and female flesh on display. And it was a hell of a film, capturing the tone perfectly to create a homage to B-movie horror of the 80’s, yet with that postmodernism self-mocking tone. 3DD lacks any of this, reeking of committee; a committee that evidently didn’t get the parodying tones and instead attributed the influx of earrings of its predecessor to it being a film about wet tits in 3D. This film is Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) bad, with a portrayal of women as odious as that of a white guy in a Spike Lee movie, and has encouraged plans for a video segment accompaniment to go along side this to fully delve into the problems on display, so look forward to that in the following weeks. Until then I promise to work in some jokes along the way, if only to lighten the potentially bitterly dark tone.

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Star Wars Specials Episode II: Attack of the Continuity Issues & Compulsory Fan Service

We all came to recognise Phantom Menace for the debacle that it was 10 minutes after the lights dimmed in the cinema, the following 100 minutes going on to make Star Wars fanboys even more intolerable to the rational world as we bitched and moaned like self-righteous Holocaust survivors. However by the time Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones aired its first Fett filled trailer many were convinced that Lucas had learnt his lesson. After all, he’d been out for the writing/directing game a while since Willow, and if you examine the context of the period in which Phantom Menace is set – during the end of the longest period of galactic peace – for all we knew the child-friendly nature of the piece could have been symbolic of the innocence and tranquillity wrapped around the denizens of the fictional galaxy at the time. I’d like to say this could be the case, but as his repeat offences have shown, George Lucas knows crap all about his own characters, setting and general themes of his universe, in addition to also having no idea of pacing, directing, editing, emotion on any level of human comprehension or any of the other baser skills required to handle a film series of this magnitude [to its’ fans]. But what did we care back in the Spring of 2002; this trailer featured more Slave-I dog-fighting, space rhino bronco riding, lightsaber swashbuckling, weird alien gladiatorial battles and plot-thickening romance brewing between Anakin and Padme than we could shake a Bantha at. We were willing to move on, all it had to do was live up to our ridiculous expectations, and how hard could pleasing Star Wars fans be…..?

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Transformers: Deus Ex Machina

It’s beyond depressing that this film ever got made, let alone cost $200m to make. A shambling, incomprehensible mess from beginning to end, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is the Batman & Robin of its generation, so bad it makes Phantom Menace seem coherent and well planned – and at least that only had one comic relief character, not the 7 presented to us here. And at least those examples were designed with kids in mind (okay, predominantly due to toy and merchandising profits), even though it was at the expense of the older fan base, whereas Revenge of the Fallen features a confusing plot masquerading as complex, assassination of political prisoners by the protagonists, racism, violence, torture, sexual content, drug references, Megan Fox whose acting “talents” should really be restricted to post-watershed schedules, and so much techno-fetishism for military technology it makes the early works of David Cronenberg pale in comparison. So with the youth alienated, fans spurred, critics ignored and Michael Bay self-professed to have no love, interest or nostalgia towards the franchise, who precisely is this film for? Single me out a demographic please, that way we can hunt them down like an AUTOBOT ASSASSINATION SQUAD (the fuck!?) and put an end to Blockbusters aimed at one retarded market who are aiding the suppression of higher quality films because they’ll fork out £9 a ticket for sub-standard, intellectually dead trash. And spare me the “it’s only a movie” rhetoric; this film cost $200 MILLION in a time of financial instability and global employment crisis – and it’s abhorrent. Donnie Darko cost less than Shia LaBeouf’s wardrobe department, so for the equivalent cost of a small island in the tropics, I expect a film to be nothing less than the Second Coming of Gonzo. If film is the death of culture, then Revenge of the Fallen is the rancid fluids leaking from the corpse, mopped up and sold to us at a higher cost than just a cinema ticket.

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Nothing Good Lasts Forever

This feature is dedicated to the memory of Harvey ‘Two Face’ Dent.

Nice work Burton. Not content with making carbon copies of Jonny Scissor-Fingers until the paint bucket of white make-up ran dry, the one time you tapped into your true potential with (the frankly amazing) Batman Returns you offend the studio execs with vile mutants and a tone darker than black, leading to us suffering Joel Schumacher’s short but terrible reign of franchise terminating terror. Sure, we eventually got Big Fish, but too little too late. The deep scars left by the Batman films of the mid ‘90s are still felt world-wide over 15 years later, but as time tries to heal these wounds we often forget the entirety of the reason these 2 movies were as awful as we hazily recall in our night terrors. Allow me to bite the batarang and remind us all why Seth Green once said, as his character crawled through a sewage pipe, “it smells like Batman Forever in here”.

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Last Time Was Just the Four-Play…

In an uncharacteristic change of pace, this session I’ll be following up on Fantastic Four instead of randomly selecting a film from the Vault of Woe (it’s a real mess in there, so often it’s easier to grab at random then trudge in search of a specific item like ‘childhood memories’). F4  was a warm-up act as it isn’t exactly a steaming pile of rancid trash – more ‘lame duck on the lawn’ than ‘dead goose in the bed sheets’, which would actually be a more fitting title for this sequel that destroyed the franchise potential of Marvel’s First Family faster than you can say Spider-Man 3. So join me on a journey through time and space as we attempt to find out when exactly the Surfer ‘rise[s]’, as the title indicates yet never explains…

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Gone (for 8 Years) in 6[90]0 Seconds

Ah, what a year 1997 was for Blockbuster flops. I shall relish getting to each one in due course, but for now let’s focus on what is still regarded as the Titanic of the decade: Batman & Robin (point of interest; Titanic is only retrospectively regarded as the Titanic of the decade so doesn’t count in this instance). Now, I can forgive myself for once being suckering into believing Spawn was good for over a decade between the viewings; after all, Spawn himself was a dark and brooding figure with weaponised parasitic armour and a face like an abused abattoir, a bad ass monster foe in the form of Violator, some passable CG sequences (not the Malebolgia bits though – they sucked even by the late 90s’ standards), and of course Martin Sheen, who is always a treat to behold even during the darker days of his career. I can blame blissful ignorance and a teenage love of the gothic for my blinkered vision of Spawn that lasted until my early 20s, and yet looking back to my days as a rosy-eyed cherub with no concept of plotting, acting talent, narrative crafting and all the other things that prevent media graduates and film buffs from enjoying otherwise perfectly entertaining films, I feel dirty and ashamed that at one point I *choke* liked Batman & Robin – honestly, I couldn’t feel more violated if I were being raped by Violator, which I’d happily let happen to my 8 year old self if it meant foregoing the embarrassment of owning the VHS of this abomination. So nipple suits at the ready as we revisit the flop that was, and is, Batman & Robin.

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